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Monday, March 26, 2018 - 19:30

The Vatican and China: Eminent normalization?


A panel discussion with Carlo d’Imporzano and Francesco Sisci


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Residence of the Ambassador of the USA
17 Guang Hua Lu, Chao Yang District



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Despite its small population of over 800, the Vatican makes decisions that affect more than 1.3 billion Catholics around the world, roughly the size of China's population. It is unique that such important international actors do not have diplomatic ties. In fact, normalization of bilateral relations seems essential for both China and the Vatican. On the eve of this normalization, come and find out first hand from experts in the field, working as a bridge for both sides, the context and impact this historical move will have on both countries.

The core concern of the Holy See is the promotion of faith in the world’s most populous nation. For China, normalized relations with the Vatican can help build its own international reputation and give impetus to the development of its Belt and Road initiative in countries and regions.

The two sides have moved towards warming relations and are to hold culture and art exchanges. China and the Holy See are designing simultaneous exhibitions in Beijing's Forbidden City and the Vatican's Anima Mundi Museum slated for March, which will be the first exchange of artworks between the two.

China has reiterated on various occasions its willingness to forge ahead with diplomatic dialogue with the Vatican but hardliners may be worried about the influence of Catholics in China. Catholics are partially still split between an “underground” and “official” communities, born out of the old Cold War in the 1950s, that divided the Church between those who collaborated or not with the Communists.

And in this centuries-long relationship stands the current charismatic Pope, who is also speaking out against injustice and on behalf of refugees and the poor.

Come hear from our distinguished speakers at the forefront of these negotiations, how they will resolve these points of contention as both countries are on the brink of signing an historical agreement.

Carlo d’Imporzano will present the new diplomacy of Pope Francis, the Holy See as a field hospital of international relations and working for the good of all people of the world, including Chinese, be they catholic or not catholic.

Francesco Sisci will present China's realisation of the Holy See as a "super soft power” and therefore the interest in normalising ties. However Beijing remains very concerned about the risks of religious influences in the country.


Carlo d’Imporzano was born in Milan, Italy in 1945, priest of the Archdioceses of Milan, Doctor in mathematics in 1969, earns Licentia in Sacra Theologia in 1970. Professor in different Universities of anthropology and history of science, former researcher in CNR, Italian National Center of Research, and former President of the University EUROCOL in Bogotà, Colombia. Director of several Cultural and Educative Exchange Projects among Europe and Asia, South America, Africa, he is, from 2003, Chief Representative of Monserrate Foundation Representative Office in Beijing, China. Lecturer in many international conferences (organized by UNESCO, etc) on culture, education and multicultural exchange.


Francesco Sisci Senior Researcher at Renmin University, Journalist in China for over 20 years, former Italian diplomat, was classically trained at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) in London and at the Graduate School of CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Science), where he was the first foreigner ever admitted.